The state rankings will appear every Tuesday/Wednesday throughout basketball season. This is an idea that I'm borrowing from ESPNChicago's Scott Powers. They have a weekly poll for the state of Illinois. My goal is to give you a quick idea of how every Division I school in Tennessee is doing. I will not preview upcoming games, as most teams have the next week off for the Christmas break.
1. Tennessee (8-2): The Volunteers may not be making another West Coast trip any time in the near future. They lost to USC by a score of 77-55, the team's biggest margin of defeat since Bruce Pearl took over. They play North Carolina A&T tonight, then play Memphis on New Year's Eve for the state's top spot.
2. Memphis (8-2): Memphis had a shot to pass UT in the rankings, but lost the "Teams that Coach Calipari Kicked to the Curb Bow." Josh Pastner couldn't lead his squad past UMass. They rebounded with a win over Southeast Missouri State. Next up is IUPUI and then the before mentioned game against UT.
3. Vanderbilt (8-3): The Commodores appear to be heading in the right direction. They defeated both Tennessee State and Mercer this week. Their shooting has dramatically improved and are showing signs of the top 25 team everybody thought they would be. The 'Dores don't play again until Manhattan comes to town on the 30th.
4. Austin Peay (8-5): The Governors took a beating at Lexington. They became the 1,999 all-time victory for the Wildcats, losing 90-69. They put that thrashing behind them, beating a pretty good Evansville team last night.
5. Belmont (7-4): I guess I jinxed he Bruins by giving them the three spot in last week's poll. They responded by losing to both Saint Louis and Eastern Illinois. Both games were competitive, but in both they came up short. Things get much tougher, as their next contest is against Kansas after the holiday break.
6. Lipscomb (4-7): After getting destroyed by Cincinnati, Lipscomb had a real chance for the upset at Arizona. According to the AP story, Nic Wise hit a 3-pointer with 0.1 second left in overtime Monday to give the Wildcats an 83-82 victory. The whole situation was a missed opportunity for the Bisons. They won't play another power conference team the rest of the season. I moved them way up, because I don't think any team below them could have played that well on the road.
7. Tennessee Tech (5-6): The Golden Eagles were impressive and resilient in a win against Ball State. They gave up a last-second triple that sent the game into overtime. Tech could have folded, but kept their heads up and won the game in overtime. With two games coming up against non-DI schools, Tech should be 7-6 headed back into OVC play.
8. Chattanooga (6-6): The Mocs' split games last week, losing to Murray State, and defeated over matched Tennessee Temple. In the game against Murray, they were out shot in the second half by a 60-28 percent margin. Considering that, a 73-62 loss doesn't sound that bad.
9. East Tennessee State (6-7): ETSU split games this week. They have to be kicking themselves for losing to a mediocre Morehead State team. Although, they did beat Jacksonville to move to 2-0 in the Atlantic Sun. ETSU doesn't play again until 2010.
10. Middle Tennessee State (5-6): The Blue Raiders were 1-0 on the week, but the victory came against a really bad team. They defeated 1-10 Howard by a score of 69-51. MTSU is off until after the Christmas break.
11. Tennessee State (3-9): Not a bad week for TSU. They held home court and defeated Alabama A&M 80-77. Then they traveled to Memorial and lost to Vanderbilt by 13. The Tigers were never in the Vandy game, but the result was better than expected. TSU has to be pleased with the last seven days.
12. Tennessee-Martin (1-8): The Skyhawks hit the road and lost to a solid Evansville team. Things won't get any easier tonight, as they play the Florida State Seminoles. Until they beat a Division I squad, you have to consider them the worst DI basketball team in the state.